Saturday, December 27, 2014

Movie Reviews: Kamikaze Girls

So, after having been into the Lolita style for several years and what with my renewed interest in it, I decided it was high time to finally watch Kamikaze Girls, which has been recommended to me ever since I learned about Lolita fashion.

 Kamikaze Girls is a story about two very different girls: Momoko, a strange young girl who dresses in frilly, Rococo style clothing, the Lolita style, and Ichigo, a Yanki or biker gang girl with a tough exterior. The story is mostly about Momoko and the effect Ichigo has on her life. The movie begins with Momoko lamenting the fact that she wasn't born in 18th century France and then going over both her parent's lives leading up to her birth and her life up until the present time.Besides being obsessed with 18th centurey France, Momoko is in love with the brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright and takes various measures to ensure she keeps her wardrobe updated with their clothing. In an attempt to make more money to keep up with her expensive brand clothing, Momoko decides to try selling fake name brand clothing left over from her father's earlier years. In responce to an ad she placed, Momoko becomes aquanted with Ichiko, a Yanki biker girl. Despite Momoko's best attempts to stay distant, Ichiko, or Ichigo, befriends Momoko and the two eventually form a strong friendship. In order to avoid giving away the story, I'm leaving my summary at that.

 Kamikaze Girls was an amusing movie with a lot of what would be considered 'wacky Japanese' elements. I enjoyed the fact that what little animation there was in the movie was very much not the typical anime style that's prevalent nowadays.While the story had many very odd points, the overall story was very enjoyable with a great ending. One of the things I liked the most about the movie was that all of the characters had very strong, distinct personalities. I highly recommend Kamikaze Girls to anyone who enjoys Japanese movies, anime, Lolita, or is just looking for a fun story to watch.

I'm on Twitter! @animlolicouture
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Whole New World~

Hello everybody! So, lately while I've been getting back into Lolita I've discovered that there's a whole different side of Lolita than what I originally knew. Sure, I might have every major sub-type and several minor ones memorized as well as descriptions of each, but I've never bought Brand. Heck, I've only just recently made my first purchase from Bodyline despite years of drooling over their cute items. So I'm learning that all the knowledge in the world about the Lolita style itself comes down to diddly squat when trying to figure out how to buy that dress you've had your eyes on from Closet Child. So here's what I've learned so far about actually buying and obtaining Lolita clothing.

Paypal: A Girl's Best Friend
 The first thing I learned about when buying clothing online is how to pay for it. A lot of places such as Amazon and Vinted accept your credit or debit card, but when ordering Lolita clothing or buying second hand, Paypal is where it's at. Paypal allows you to transfer funds from your bank account to your Paypal account allowing you to buy items without any transaction fees. This takes 3-5 days (or more if there's a holiday) to acchieve though, so it's not the best option for buying something unexpected such as a desperate sale or an auction. Paypal also allows you to use your debit card like regular, but does charge a small fee for it. One of the nice things about Paypal is that should you not get your item you can always file a claim to get your money back. This only works if you use the 'business' option as oposed to the 'family' option when you're paying though, so be careful!

 Budgeting makes it a lot harder to spend all your money on that Twinkle Mermaid auction that just popped up when you really should be paying rent or bills. While it takes self control, I've found that budgeting helps me keep my finances stable so that when I do obtain pieces I enjoy I don't have to turn around and sell them in order to pay utilities. You can do whatever you want for your budget, but I chose to set a weekly spending limit of $40 for myself. This makes it so that I can still buy cute stuff, but I have to wait a while before buying which also makes it easier to avoid shopper's regret as I'll have several weeks to think about a more expensive item before actually buying it. What's that? You just bought a $200 JSK from Angelic Pretty? No problem. Your budget hasn't been completely blown as long as you lower your spending money for the next few weeks to make up for it. In this example, I'd lower my spending limit by $20 for 10 weeks (or 8 if I didn't buy anything else that week) so that I'd still have a weekly spending allowance, but not have to worry as much about the impact of that JSK on my finances.

Second Hand
 There's plenty of different places to look for second hand Lolita clothing. Lolita sales groups on Facebook and Lace Market. There's also eBay, Closet Child (in Japan and online), and EGL sales on LiveJournal. Prices vary depending on the item and its condition, but usually you can find Brand pieces for significantly less than originally priced. If you're good at removing stains and fixing small damages, you can get even cheaper items this way as many sellers will significantly decrease their prices if an item is damaged. I have yet to buy from any of these platforms, but I know most personal sellers take Paypay. I haven't figured out how to order from closet child yet, so I don't know if they would require a buying service or not.

EGL Forums, YouTube, Lolita Groups, Blogs, etc.
 There are numerous resources for finding out how to buy inexpensive Lolita online. Most of what I know has been gleaned from various sources. If you can, I would recomend finding a friend who's either into Lolita and used to buying online, or just one that frequently orders from overseas or online. Thanks to the help of one of my friends I was able to figure out how Pay Pal works so that I would be able to buy clothes and accessories online without having to worry as much about the integrity of my bank account.

I'm on Twitter! @animlolicouture
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

First Impressions: Parasyte -The Maxim-

 So recently I discovered that one of my favorite mangas has recently been turned into an anime: Parasyte -The Maxim-. Needless to say I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I discovered this and promptly wondered why I hadn't noticed it before. Well, as I soon found out, the series had only begun airing in Japan in October, so there aren't a lot of episodes so far. However, I'm quite enjoying what there is so far. I was a little upset by the change in art style (the original manga was a more realistic, yet simple style than the typical anime style) as well as a LOT of changes to character designs, but I've managed to overlook that and am happily enjoying the show anyways. Thus far, the story has been fairly accurate to the original manga (what I remember at least) and has been quite enjoyable! I'd highly recommend the Parasyte -The Maxim- anime to anyone looking for a new supernatural anime aimed at a more mature audience.

 For those wondering about the storyline, the story is about a typical high school student named Shinichi who's life suddenly changes one night after his arm is taken over by a strange alien creature. He later finds out that there are other creatures like the one in his arm that have taken over humans by devouring their heads and now must fight them to prevent them from eating the rest of humanity.

I'm on Twitter! @animlolicouture
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

I Got a Car! ...And Then Another.

Hello my lovelies!
 Today I'm going to be talking about my experience buying not one, but two cars! Let's get started!

Buying a car

 So, a while back I was able to build up enough saving to buy a car outright. I HIGHLY recommend doing this, especially if you're buying your first car. As nice as it is to have a shiny, new car, you never know what's going to happen and it's better to have payed it off from the getgo rather than getting a loan and being in debt for years to come. One of the disadvantages of buying an older, used car is you never know what sort of problems the car might have. That is why I strongly encourage getting a Carfax report and a good mechanic!

 Most of the time you have to pay in order to get a Carfax report, but it is well worth it. I would recommend only buying the carfax report after you get serious about buying a car. This can be after an initial lookover or before going to see the car the first time, depending on how much time you have. I got the Carfax before going to look at my cars the first time due to time constraints. Why is a Carfax report so urgent, you may ask. Let me tell you about one time some friends were looking at a car and really wanted to buy it, but were unsure whether it was a good idea or not. After getting the Carfax report, my friends were able to figure out between the report itself and the water damage on the interior that the car had been through huricane Katrina and ended up near us. This brings me to my next point:

Have a Good Mechanic
 Unfortunately, good mechanics are hard to find. I might as well be telling you to go find a unicorn. However, they can be found (the mechanics that is ;) )! Look for a mechanic who will look over a car thouroughly for you and make sure there aren't any problems or anything that could cause a serious problem for you in the near future. There's different levels of good mechanics though. There's the type who will look over the car for you and tell you everything looks good, then there's the type who tell you you need some coolant and offer to change out your spack plugs and check on your breaks for you when all you did was show your car to them. If you couldn't tell, I was lucky enough to run into the second type! Check into places like AutoZone and Firestone to have your car checked after you buy it too!

Kelly Blue Books
 Before settling on a car, be sure to check it's listed price against Kelly Blue Books. All you need to do is select the make and model, select the options the car has (eg: sunroof, tape player, leather interior), and note what sort of overall condition the car appears to be in. Kelly Blue Books will give you a price range for the car you're looking at so you can compare it to what the seller is asking. If the price is way higher, you may want to check with the seller to see why. If they've done a custom paint job and changed the original 4-cylinder engine out for a 6-cylinder, that would explain. However, the reverse is true. If you see a snazzy looking car with custom paint job and a bunch of extras listed for way less than the KBB value, there's probably something horribly wron with it. One car I looked at was an ordinary looking sedan that was priced much lower than what KBB valued a similar car in good condition to be worth. I looked into it a little more and found out that the car had some serious engine troubles.

So you may be wondering, "Didn't she say she bought TWO cars?" That is quite true. I however only own one car right now as the second car was bought to replace the first one that was totaled in an accident. I was able to get the majority of what I'd payed for the car back as I wasn't at fault and between that and my remaining savings I was able to buy a new car and still have plenty of savings left over to do a little maintainance on it with the help of my mechanic friend. My current car is working great and I always know where to turn if it needs any maintainance!

I'm on Twitter! @animlolicouture
Check out my fanpage (maintained by yours truly):

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Swear I'm Not Dead!

Hello everyone!

 I'm sorry for all the random, sporadic, unannounced hiatusus (hiati?) I keep taking from my blog. I've been working on a lot of different things lately and been doing some job related training that has eaten up a rather large portion of my time. Plus I've rediscovered anime as well as several interesting British TV shows on YouTube. TV never helps with time management. ^^;; Fortunately, my job training is done and I now have more time to dedicate to other interests such as crafts, sewing, anime, and going through the huge amount of possessions I have. What does this mean for you guys? More updates! I've decited to start using a different blogging format and start doing a combination of video and text based blog entries. I'm nearly done editing the first video, so it will be up before too long!

 While I am getting more into Lolita and anime as of late, I'm also planning on sharing some real world advice on here as well as my regular mix of Japanese culture inspired posts. Here's some of what you have to look forward to:
-My car buying experience
-Bodyline review
-More anime reviews
-Movie reviews
-Room cleaning/cutting down on clutter tips

Hope you all enjoy the new posts I'm making! Stay tuned!

Check me out on Twitter: @AnimLoliCouture
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Anime Reviews: Rozen Maiden 2013

One time at an anime convention I used to regularly attend I was introduced to the show Rozen Maidens, and anime about dolls that must fight to become the best for their creator. I recently decided to watch it, but mistakenly stumbled upon another series with the same characters in an alternate universe. I originally thought that it was just a DVD adaption, but after completing the series I discovered that there was a separate show that was the original. I have yet to watch it at the time of writing this post.

I enjoyed the story and music of the 2013 version of Rozen Maidens. The doll characters all have very beautiful outfits and their own, distinct personalities. I very much enjoyed the music in the show as well. The opening and closing themes both have a strong presence to them. The story followed that  of Jun, the main character from the original show, in an alternate universe where the Rozen Maiden dolls did not exist. Unfortunately, the story didn't grab me until the last few episodes as it seemed somewhat confusing and I didn't really connect with any of the characters until the end. The ending was open, allowing for a continuation of the series at a later point in time.

To be honest, I contemplated not watching the whole series due to not investing my interest in it, but I decided to continue until the end as it was a short series. I enjoyed the last three or four episodes the most.

I apologize for not having a lot to say about the show, but it did not leave me with a very strong impression. I likely won't be recommending this anime to others as I felt the story was rather weak and somewhat predictable at points.

Follow me on Twitter! @animlolicouture

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anime Reviews: The Girl who Leapt Through Time

Recently I have been getting back into watching anime, so I've decided to start doing reviews on the various anime and movies I've watched. Today I'll be reviewing the anime movie titled: The Girl who Leapt Through Time.

The girl who leapt through time is the story about a young Japanese highschool girl who after an extrodinarily bad day discovers she has the ability to go back in time, or "time leap" as it is called in the movie. She uses this ability to change day to day events to more suit her liking, but eventually discovers she only has a limited number of time leaps left and must use them wisely to avoid a traumatic experience. She also discovers that she's not alone in her ability to time leap.

I found the storyline of The Girl who Leapt Through Time to be very engaging to the point I ended up watching it all in one sitting instead of taking a break from it to play a game with a friend. Sorry friend, but this was an awesome movie! The characters were all very believeable, none of them were overly dramatic and there were absolutely no self generated backgrounds or breaks in character as in some animes where the characters will begin talking to the viewer instead of the characters around them. The story also flowed well, giving the viewer moments to pause and observe or think along with the characters. The art style was a more simplistic anime style as opposed to the face eating eyes and unrealistic proportions common in many Shojo and Shonen anime. Overall, I very much enjoyed The Girl who Leapt Through Time and would recommend it to others as well as rewatch it myself. Five out of five stars for this one!

If you would like to recommend an anime or anime movie for me to watch and review, please leave a comment down below, or you can send me a tweet @animlolicouture. Please do not ask me to watch Yaoi or Yuri or any anime that is pornographic in nature as I do not enjoy that sort of show. Animes targeted at more mature audiences will be accepted on a case by case basis.

Raid my closet: Vinted.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Selling Clothes: My Experience

For selling off old Lolita dresses and accessories, it's obvious one should go to the EGL forums or a second hand store online such as Closet Child ("No WAY am I donating a $200+ dollar dress!"), but what about ordinary clothing such as jeans and T-Shirts? What do we do if we want to sell those? Well I've been trying to sell some of my old clothes that are still in good condition and here's what I've tried and found!

~Commission Stores~
 So, one of the first things I tried to do with my old clothing was take a bag full down to a store called Plato's Closet. They buy your old clothes and sell them at really inexpensive prices. Well, I ended up walking out with the same bag of items minus one or two things I'd recently bought. And since they sell the items so cheaply at the store, they don't pay much.

Verdict: This sort of shop is great if your clothes are the current "in" style that you can find in stores. Just don't expect much if it isn't a big brand!

 This online service seemed like an awesome idea at first. Got stuff you don't want? We can help you trade it for something you do! Even if you don't want something Person A has to offer for it,  if Person B has something you want and wants something Person A has, you can still trade! Horrible explanation there, I know. Pretty much it's a trading service that allows people to form a big trade ring so that everyone gets what they want, even if Person A and Person B don't like the other's items. The first thing I noticed about Swapdom was it's shipping costs. Even if you just want to get something small like a pair of leggings, the shipping often is way more than you would actually want to spend on the item.

Verdict: Good for larger items where you'd expect to pay more, but not so much for clothing!

 Overall, Tradesy seems like a cool site. Post your items, they clean the cover image and send you a free shipping packet when it sells. Cool! So who wants to buy my stuff? *crickets* Uhm, can I at least see who all's looked at my stuff or who likes it? *Tradesy* Nope. Sorry. Free shipping packet though!

Verdict: Great idea, but I have yet to sell ANYTHING despite lowering my prices multiple times. I don't even know if anyone's looked at them... From what I can tell, you're more likely to have success on this site selling big brand name items like Prada or Coach.

 I'll be honest here: I haven't really used Poshmark yet. When I signed up for it I didn't know you had to have a smartphone to be able to sell anything on it. At the time, I didn't have a smartphone, but I do now, so I might give it a try. It seems to be aimed more at selling brand name items like Tradesy, but so far all I've gotten is a bunch of emails telling me how I seriously need this random (probably expensive) brand I've never even heard of.

Verdict: Requires a smartphone. Haven't used it.

 Like Poshmark, this site also works on smartphones. However, unlike Poshmark, it's not smartphone inclusive. It has a full site that you can easily sign up through and post clothes through. When I got my smartphone, I decided to give this service a try and I must say, I LOVE it! I've been on five days now and I'm already selling items! Unlike Tradesy, Vinted makes it easy to see how many people have viewed your items as well as see who's "favorited" them. Communication with potential buyers is as easy as clicking the message button on their profile. All users also have a rating given to them by other users who buy from them. Selling items is just as easy. I have the app on my phone, so I just throw my items on a dress form or a hanger, take a few pictures using the app, crop them, put in details, and shezam! Item's up and ready to be sold! When you're item's sold you simply print out a label, put it on a box with the item inside and you're good to go!

Verdict: This is a great site! Easy to use, very user friendly, and easy to sell items. Great for selling any sort of clothing be it a prom dress or a T-Shirt.

Hope this article has been helpful for all of you lovely people and I hope you all have a wonderful day and good luck selling your old clothes!

Check me out on Twitter: @animelolitacouture
Raid my closet! User ButterflyChan on Vinted.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Staying Cute and Staying Warm

Let's face it: Winter can get really cold and knee length skirts can leave your legs freezing. So what's a girl to do? We want to look cute all year round, but we don't want to be so sick we can't show off our ensembles. Well, with the right additions to your wardrobe, you can look cute year round. Here's a list of my top four ideas for keeping warm while dressing cute.

#1: Headgear

This first one might seem a little obvious, but it still doesn't hurt to point it out. Be it a knit cap, earmuffs, or cat eared hat, anything that can cover your ears will help prevent issues such as frostbite in colder areas. In windy areas, knit hats aren't as useful as woven fabrics such as fleece or faux-fur since the wind seems to blow through every crack in the knit. Hats with ears sewn on or other items such as pins, charms, and flowers can be just as functional as plain ones while still allowing you to dress cute. Can't find one? Take a simple fleece cap in a color you like, some ribbon, flowers, or any other decorations you like and hot glue or sew them to your hat. Don't want to mess up your hairdo? Earmuffs keep your ears covered without covering your whole head.

#2: Tights

To keep your legs warm, tights are a must. I highly recommend getting multiple pairs of dance tights as they are thick and durable. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled on a pair of regular nylons just to have my thumb go through them the first time I wear them. Unlike regular nylons, dance tights are designed to be pulled on and off quickly for fast costume changes off-stage. Having been in dance since I was a kid, I know for a fact that dance tights are made to last. I have pairs that I've had for nearly eight years now and they still work wonderfully. Don't be afraid to layer on multiple pairs as the more you have on the warmer your legs will be. I personally have one pair each of pink, tan, and black tights that I layer in that order for warmth or wear one or two at a time for days that are still cold, but not excessively so.

#3: Coats

Like hats, this may seem a bit obvious, but the type of coat may not be quite as obvious. Coats that end at your waist can look cute, but your tush can get a lot colder than with a knee length version. I personally recommend a thick wool coat if you live somewhere that can get especially cold. I got one that's surplus from the Swedish Air Force from Sportsman's Guide, a seller of military surplus as well as hunting and fishing gear. You can also get really cute Lolita themed coats from places such as Bodyline. I can't say how warm Bodyline's coats are though as I haven't gotten one before, so feel free to comment if you know.

#4: Layers

Layers upon layers is a key to staying warm. Wearing a long sleeved T-shirt under a long sleeve blouse, wearing multiple petticoats, or  wearing legwarmers are all examples of how you can help keep warm. Be careful not to overdo things though! While you might be perfectly warm outside, you have to be careful you don't over-heat inside. So make sure you have layers that can easily be removed such as a coat or cardigan and always be prepared to slip into a bathroom to take off a layer of tights of petticoat.

Stay warm lovelies, this season and many more yet to come!

Follow me on Twitter: @animlolicouture